Published for the First Time: a 1959 Essay by Isaac Asimov on Creativity | MIT Technology Review

24 Oct

Here is the origin of the essay:

“When I first became involved in the project, I suggested that Isaac Asimov, who was a good friend of mine, would be an appropriate person to participate. He expressed his willingness and came to a few meetings. He eventually decided not to continue, because he did not want to have access to any secret classified information; it would limit his freedom of expression. Before he left, however, he wrote this essay on creativity as his single formal input. This essay was never published or used beyond our small group. When I recently rediscovered it while cleaning out some old files, I recognized that its contents are as broadly relevant today as when he wrote it. It describes not only the creative process and the nature of creative people but also the kind of environment that promotes creativity.”

Read the whole thing.

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Balance the Scales

29 Sep

In the Gospel of Luke Jesus is says, “Don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it?”

Whether you want it or not, life changes.  When you passively wait for life to calm down all you are doing is letting it slip away from your control.  Like a rough tide on the ocean, it will eventually drag you down.  When we decide on a course for our own life all we are really doing is determining what style of ship is necessary to navigate the rough seas ahead.  In order to be successful we must count the cost.

Think of your life like a business, in fact the most important venture you could ever run.  You have assets and expenditures.  Assets increase in value over time and promote a healthy state of affairs.  Expenses cost something, and if improperly managed will bankrupt your business.  The first step in building the right vessel is building the balance sheets of your business.

Create a list with three columns: assets, expenses, and motivation.  Remember, these can be either physical or intangible (car, house, or wife’s support).  In the motivation column write out the importance to your life on a scale of one through ten.  Remember, we are not trying to “cook the books” but create a balanced approach to your life.

What does the list look like?  Take some time to perfect it and once your done use your list as the starting point for what you want to do with the rest of your life.

Get Busy Living

25 Sep

Bob Dylan said, “he who’s not busy living is busy dying”

More often than not we are so busy focusing on all the things that “matter” we don’t have the chance to enjoy what we already have.  Our joy in life comes from maintaining a delicate balance.  Scripture says straight is the way and narrow is the gate that leads to salvation.  How true.

The balance of our lives can be divided into three parts.

  1. Doing what needs to be done
  2. Having things that enhance our life
  3. Being content with our own experiences

When these three areas of your life are in sync with one another everything just “feels” right.

All of us have unique gifts and insights into life that only we tap into.  I’d be willing to bet that every one of you want both happiness and success in your life.  Sometimes, we think having both at the same time is unreachable.  I’m here to tell you that achieving a healthy balance is not only achievable but inevitable for the person who counts the cost.  Are you willing to DO what needs to be done?  Have ONLY the things that enhance your life?  BE content with yourself?

I hope the answer to all of these is yes.  If it is, stay focused and the path ahead will open with time.

Living life is not about being busy or having a full agenda, it’s about experiencing a state of contentment that pushes us closer to those things that really do matter.  Those are the hard to recreate moments that we look back on with fondness and a sense of longing.  When you pull your life together and truly start to “live” you will experience joy like a prisoner set free from years of captivity and struggle.  Trust me, even the storms of life feel like freedom to that man.

Service out of Uniform

22 Sep

“A proud man is always looking down on things and people; and, of course, as long as you are looking down, you cannot see something that is above…” C.S. Lewis

 

The moment we feel “better” than someone else we have excluded ourselves from excellent living. One of the most surprising aspects of community involvement is how humbling it is to give your own time and energy to help someone else. That feeling of gratitude and personal accomplishment can overcome even the most stressful week you’ve had at home or work. Exercise, alcohol, and any other diversion you normally provide for yourself pales in comparison to a great volunteer event.

Volunteering has a wonderful way of giving you so much more than you ever expected to receive in return. I have; discovered new friends, improved my personal relationships, and found new business associates all by giving a little of my time and energy. Don’t get me wrong, it required a positive attitude and an open mind.

Too many of us vets seem to think that our service somehow gives us a license to look down on the rest of society. In the worst cases we come out of uniform with some sick sense of entitlement. We feel we “rate” something more than the paycheck and numerous benefits available at separation. This attitude poisons your ability to achieve your greatest potential. The World owes you nothing for your service but a THANK YOU.

I found that after picking up my DD214 people respected me more as a vet for what I gave back to society than what I wanted from it. The best vet is recognized for not only what he did on the battlefield but also for what he gives back to make his friends, family, and neighborhood a little better place. I challenge each and every one of you to go out and give something back to our communities, churches, and country. You’ll be surprised how much your help will mean to everyone involved.

 

Bad Advice sounds Pretty Good

9 Sep

The worst advice I have ever heard given was at an “inspirational” gathering in rural Oklahoma.  The Speaker (with every bit of spirit he had) said that, “If you surround yourself with those who agree with you, you will never be wrong.”  On the other hand, you’ll never know when you’re right.

                It is important to surround yourself with people who will cheer you on, inspire you, and generally support your efforts and carry you through the failures.  That does not mean they will not offer you some cold hard truth when they see the ship sailing toward the iceberg.  After all, would you rather suffer a little prideful hurt or risk losing everything while the crowd cheers?

sinkng ship

                Not everyone you know will be as committed to your success as you are.  Seeing you go out and develop a winning strategy for your life will make them nervous or even jealous.  In an attempt to make their self feel better, they will do the only thing they can think to do.  They will drag you down to their level, and many of them will do it with a smile.  These “friends” will make every excuse under the sun for why their life is not living up to their expectations, and they will want you to do the same.

                As you develop, your own plan for success, refuse to surround yourself with “yes men”.  Choose people who support your effort more than your own ego and pride.  The right people will support you when the effort costs more than you expect.  They will work beside you patiently and never suggest you take short cuts or jump on the “get rich quick” bandwagon.  They will love you through the failures and the triumphs.  Most importantly, they will offer the sort of sound advice that prepares you for any of life’s challenges.

This week make a list of the most important people in your life.  Ask yourself if they are truly encouraging you.  Why wait to replace them if the answer is no?

Letters of Note: The Heinlein Maneuver

10 Apr

Comments by Theodore on a letter from Robert Heinlein:

“I went into a horrible dry spell one time. It was a desperate dry spell and an awful lot depended on me getting writing again. Finally, I wrote to Bob Heinlein. I told him my troubles; that I couldn’t write—perhaps it was that I had no ideas in my head that would strike a story. By return airmail—I don’t know how he did it—I got back 26 story ideas. Some of them ran for a page and a half; one or two of them were a line or two. I mean, there were story ideas that some writers would give their left ear for. 

Read the whole thing here. And the letter!

Watching the couples go by.

28 Jan

Nicely said by Howard Stein, an economist:

But to the man whose hand or arm she is holding, she is not “average.” She is the whole world to him. They may argue occasionally, or even frequently. He may have an eye for the cute intern in his office. But that is superficial. Fundamentally, she is the most valuable thing in his life.Genesis says, “And the Lord God said: ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a help meet for him.’ ” And so, “made He a woman.” It doesn’t say that He made a prettywoman, or a witty woman, or an any-kind-of-adjective woman. He made the basic woman.Why is this basic woman so valuable to the man whose hand or arm she is holding as I see them making their way up to the Kennedy Center? I think there are three simple things…